What's your favourite kitchen tool?
Something terrible has happened in my kitchen. I don't know how and I don't know when, but one of my most precious pieces of culinary equipment has vanished. One minute it was there, rattling around in the cutlery drawer and the next, it had disappeared.
I'm beginning to think someone broke into my house and stole my precious, 20-year-old speed peeler. When you've used one of these masterful pieces of stainless steel, you don't want to go back to those cheap plastic numbers, ever.
The loss of my speed peeler, which my mother gave me when I first went flatting, has reminded me that it's the simple things that can make all the difference in the kitchen.
Wellington caterer to the stars Ruth Pretty agrees. Pretty presides over thousands of pieces of equipment at her vast catering premises in Te Horo, but one of her most precious kitchen tools is a retro-looking wooden handled fish slice.
"After my mother died I saw in the utensil drawer, and asked my father if I could take I, as it would be a great prop for food photos," she says. "I have used it in food photos, but it is also always my first grab when I need a fish slice type utensil, as it always makes me think of my mother."
Nadia Lim also has a soft spot for some sentimental kitchenalia. "My favourite little 'tools' in the kitchen are my little owl salt and pepper shakers. They were handed down to me from my nan who passed away a few years ago. I named them Oscar and Wilbur. I don't use them all the time but they watch over me in the kitchen. They even feature throughout my cookbook in many of the photographs!"
For his part, Chef Martin Bosley reckons he'd be lost without his "really boring" Japanese Shun cook's knife.
"I've used it for years. It's a simple tool, heavy, reliable, keeps its edge and I use it for everything, from filleting fish to chopping garlic. We've got history, having travelled the world together and I'd be lost without it."
RUTH PRETTY'S MUST-HAVE KITCHEN TOOLS
1. A thick, large wooden chopping board.
2. A Large chef's knife.
3. An Asian-style chef's knife.
4. A steel (for sharpening knives).
5. A large cast iron frypan.
NADIA LIM'S KITCHEN ESSENTIALS
1. A very sharp set of knives (there's nothing more frustrating than a really blunt knife!). Get your knives professionally sharpened every month.
2. Microplane grater: An awesome tool for very finely grating lemon zest, parmesan, ginger, chocolate... the list goes on.
3. A good solid wooden chopping board: I prefer it to plastic and glass.
4. Food processor: It's a bit of a luxury item but when I bake cakes I just tip all ingredients in and whiz up the batter. No creaming, folding or beating required and the cakes turn out perfectly.
5. A blender: For my almost daily raspberry and avocado smoothie (blend 1 avocado, 1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries, 2 teaspoons honey and some milk together) - simply delicious and nutritious!
MARTIN BOSLEY'S KITCHEN FAVOURITES
1. A large wooden chopping board: It is more work bench than board, giving me plenty of room to spread out ingredients and prepare them.
2. A good wooden spoon: Useful for stirring everything from pasta to cake batter, they feel great in the hand and are comforting to use.
3. A wooden lemon reamer: I use a lot of lemons in my cooking, and one of these is incredibly handy for any that are reluctant to give up their precious juice.
4. Immersion blender: Brilliant for making emulsified salad dressings, silky sauces and smooth soups with little fuss or mess.
5. A speed peeler: I've used the same brand for years, and they are a reliable and wonderful tool.
LUCY CORRY'S KITCHEN HELPERS
1, A serrated bread knife: I use it for all sorts of other tasks, such as slicing tomatoes and pineapple.
2. A miniature silicon fish slice: Brilliant for pancakes, getting cakes out of tins, stirring porridge. It's bright orange, so it never gets lost in the drawer.
3. An Aunty Flo's mixing bowl: One of the most beautiful, not to mention useful, things I own. It's handmade by Owen Bartlett in Nelson and I use it every day.
4. Measuring cups and spoons: Because baking is a science as well as an art, and you can't be cavalier about these things.
5. A mortar and pestle: Bought in Cambodia, weighs a ton, can pulverise a clove of garlic in a second.
WIN! An Electrolux Turbo Pro Stick Mixer, valued at $199.95. Simply fill in the form below and tell us what your favourite kitchen gadget is.
Competition Terms & Conditions:
1. The Promoter is Fairfax Media through its website www.stuff.co.nz (the "Promoter").
2. ELIGIBILITY: Employees and immediate families of Fairfax New Zealand and Electrolux, associated sponsor(s) and their immediate families are not eligible to enter.
3. HOW TO ENTER: Entry is free. Entry is by filling out the competition form within the Stuff.co.nz article. One Entry per person
4. DATES: The competition closes on Monday March 18 at 9.59am.The prize draw will take place after 10am on Monday March 18
5. PRIZE: An Electrolux Turbo Pro Stick Mixer, valued at $199.95